Ellison, MS buy in to Apple, but Jobs stays on fence

Steve Jobs failed to announce a new chairman for Apple Computer today, implicitly giving the answer that he himself is not prepared to take the reins.

Some will be disappointed by this, but the bad news will be tempered by the announcement that the board is to be strengthened by new big guns -- Larry Ellison, chairman of Oracle, Bill Campbell, chairman of Intuit, and Jerry York, former chief financial officer at Chrysler and IBM, as well as Jobs himself who will continue to serve on the board, though not as chairman or CEO.

Wall Street will welcome this news, and the news that Microsoft is to buy $150 million worth of Apple stock, and will commit to continuing support for the Mac with application software, including Microsoft Office, for the next five years. Apple's share price was edging up as Jobs announced this news.

Apple watchers will not be as happy with the price that Apple are paying - an agreement to make Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) 4.0 the Mac's default browser. Some will see this as selling out to Microsoft. It emphasises Apple's failed attempts to build its own Net software since the demise of CyberDog, and it raises questions about System 8's own Web components; if IE 4 is going to do the browsing, what will System 8 be doing as far as the Net is concerned?

Jobs commitment to the Mac OS, stating that the MacOS is a "core asset" and the firm will "invest more in it" will brighten the hearts of the Mac faithful, who have feared that recent claims from the firm that it was as committed as ever to the MacOS lacked conviction, and were beginning to sound like the dreaded vote of confidence in a premier league football manager.